It’s 1999.  Flitwick has two Beer Guide entries in what will be forever known as the “comedy edition” of the Beer Guide*, before the venerable Mr Protz returned to rescue the Millennium edition.


Since that high watermark, Flitwick’s GBG well has run dry. Until now.

Flitwick is to Bedfordshire what, say, Winsford is to Cheshire. A workmanlike light industrial town that looks south for its cultural highlights (to Luton and to Crewe respectively).

Look how much I’ve seen of Greater Flitwick !


Ampthill has the Georgian architecture, the Waitrose, the classic Banks & Taylors pub.  But Flitwick has the train station that will surely bring in the pub-ticking hordes.

Architecturally it’s a bit of a struggle, a modern arcade of shops near the Tesco lacking anything more exciting than a new Costa. As nearly always, the highlights are the pubs.  A much depleted collection since 1999, for some inexplicable reason.


Having told you the new GBG is all micro pubs and Brewhouses, I’m pleased to report a couple of local boozers in Flitwick, owned by the cutting-edge Punch and Chas Wells.

The Crown greets you (in pub terms) with a toothless smile,


and inside the word “CRAFT”, Doom Bar font and hops on the ceiling don’t convince me this is a real ale stronghold, with just a group of cheery locals next door in the pool room.


But I’m wrong. The Nethergate Mild is cool and splendidly rich, worth at least NBSS 3.5.

Kraken bottles for candles is an original touch, the Pink soundtrack and Zappa quotation less so.



So once more the Guide gets it right, as it does at the Swan, opposite the station.


Here I realise the area is famous for the annual potato race (actually up the road in Flitton), for which Sky have recently acquired the rights.


It’s another wonderful proper pub, the regulars gathered at the bar debating which beer I should go for when I ask them for a steer.


It turns out to be the Black Sheep that they’re drinking (another NBSS 3.5), and one chap tells me the Swan ought to be in the Beer Guide, but fears it will be squeezed out by the “Old Guard“.  I honour the embargo, of course, but hopefully he knows by now his vote was not in vain as the Swan attains its own Holy Grail.

Not a pub for the crafterati, but one for the pub connoisseur.

But the highlight comes in the village hall, where the Friday market is winding down. I miss Fudge Man, but the Thai Man serves me a superb Pad Thai for a fiver, and brings me his Sun to read while I wait.



There is no better place in the world to read about George’s first day at school.


*Ask Uncle Duncan, he’s the Official GBG historian.


  1. “It’s another wonderful proper pub, the regulars gathered at the bar debating which beer I should go for when I ask them for a steer.”

    Good on them. 🙂

    “Kraken bottles for candles is an original touch,”

    My local liquor store carries that (the rum, not the non-alcoholic ginger beer in cans). I could have sworn they did a beer in that same bottle. Maybe it’s a seasonal thing.

    Oh and that Pad Thai looks a little bit like a Kraken come to think of it. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some fine looking pubs there, Martin. I made regular visits to Bedford and the surrounding area, back in my student days – staying with friends of friends. I don’t recall venturing as far south a Flitwick, but we still managed to visit some cracking pubs.

    Frank Zappa – someone else who was taken from us far too early in life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Martin, the train station will draw in nobody as there is no such thing, however the railway station will surely draw in the tickers. In fact, next time I am down there in the small hours, I think I will tick off Flitwick railway station in the small hours. I bet the pub doesn’t have a late licence now does it?

    Who’s George? Is it newsworthy because he is having his first day at school at the age of 35 or something?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When the legendary Jack & Doreen Billingsby ran The Old Star, Clifford (last tenants before it went to be a managed house) they had regular maggot racing events for charity and I believe were featured on YTV’s Calendar news programme. I don’t think they ever considered potato racing? Surely they are a bit slow to come out of the traps?

    Doreen’s homemade steak pie was awesome and people travelled miles to sample it. They only served 12 – 2pm, but the pub was nicely busy every lunchtime and on Sundays you had to be there for bang on 12 to get a table or wait for, effectively, the second sitting. Oh happy days!

    All the Sam’s pubs round here had their own identity in terms of food, always home cooked. The Hare & Hounds at Stutton, Tadcaster was particularly renowned and was approaching fine dining in terms of standards. Then Humphrey’s Sarah Brownridge food factory lost a big contract and he decided to use the spare capacity to supply the microwave ready meals they produce into his pubs. Biggest mistake they made, especially for rural pubs which instantly lost their lunchtime appeal and unique identity. And customers.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s